Each week, TODAY’s long-running Big Read series delves into the trends and issues that matter. This week, we look at the experiences of residents in three special public housing blocks which houses both Build-to-Order and Housing and Development Board rental units in a bid to encourage social mixing among different socio-economic groups. This is a shortened version of the full feature, which can be found here.
THE BIG PICTURE
For Mr Zailan, 36, who declined to give his full name, moving into a rental unit at the integrated block at Block 182A in Marsiling Greenview has meant creating a safer and better environment for his two children, who are four and seven.
Mr Zailan said that he moved out of his previous rental flat in Bedok after noticing how the environment there might introduce “bad habits” to his children.
“I was out on level 12 and I saw the other kids from the rental units (in Bedok) sitting on the parapet smoking, and I’m afraid my children would follow so I decided to move out,” he said.
While there may be some who welcome the idea of integrated blocks, there are others like Madam Sim, 71, who also declined to give her full name, who still has some reservations about mixing rental and BTO units together.
Madam Sim moved into her three room BTO flat in West Plains@Bukit Batok after her husband’s illness had kept him wheelchair-bound.
Her concerns about sharing a block with rental tenants stems from the increase in cigarette smoking and the general cleanliness of the common areas, as well as a growing number of people she has seen going in and out of the flats on her floor and in her block.
“I used to be able to walk around my corridor late at night, but I’ve not been able to now due to the increase in the number of people and unfamiliar faces,” said Mdm Sim.
However, some other BTO flat owners in integrated blocks say they have no issues living alongside those in rental units
“Sometimes homeowners may not be happy with the renters, saying that they are noisy, but I say that as neighbours, we have to understand each other,” said a BTO flat owner and housewife at Marsiling Greenview who wanted to be known only as Madam Nor, 61
Mr Zaqy Mohamad, a Member of Parliament (MP) for Marsiling-Yew Tee Group Representation Constituency (GRC) who oversees the Marsiling Greenview integrated block, told TODAY that he had expected concerns to be raised by residents living in the block though he had only received a handful of such feedback to date.
Mr Zaqy, who is also Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Defence, said the issues raised were related to the upkeep of the common areas, and noise problems due to inconsiderate behaviours or a moneylender chasing someone for money.
He added that there had been incidents which led to the police being called, but stressed that these were “sporadic” compared to the ones in older rental flats.
Despite such issues, Mr Zaqy highlighted the need for integrated blocks as tenants of rental units get to enjoy the same facilities that are not available to them if they were living in normal public rental blocks.